According to the Chakras’ tradition, the physical human body does not only consist of bones, muscles, organs, and skin. It’s rather made up of various layers of energy fields surrounding the physical body. These layers are said to form the so-called subtle body, which is also called the energy body. ‘Subtle’ in this context means ‘that what is most delicate’, ‘that what is most refined’.
In yoga, the life force energy (otherwise known as “prana”) travels through the subtle body in a series of channels, called “nadis.” These nadis intersect at points of intensified energy, called “chakras.” A Sanskrit word for “wheel,” chakras are spinning vortexes of energy in the subtle body that correspond to various glands along the spine and inside the skull. According to yoga philosophy, the human body has seven major chakras which will be further explored in the latter sections of this guide.
Each chakra governs specific behaviours and aspects of our lives, such as material security, communication, and love. They also regulate various bodily systems, like the skeletal system. Every chakra also corresponds to an element, to a “mantra” (a “repeated syllable”), and to a specific colour along the rainbow spectrum.
Yoga is one of the most basic ways to balance each chakra because it creates alignment in the physical body. Balancing and stabilising your physical body through asana (yoga posture) practice also rebalances your subtle body. This realigns the chakras, which regulate specific behaviours, and makes it easier to overcome outdated patterns, beliefs, and habits.
Below is a brief description of the first three (lower) chakras, along with a yoga posture that you can try to stimulate and balance each one. Next month we’ll discuss the other four (higher) chakras, so stay tuned. 🤗
Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra)
- Location: Base of the spine
- System: Skeletal
- Associations: Security, survival, safety, money, physical vitality
- Colour: Red
- Element: Earth
- Mantra: Lam
- Affirmation: I am safe
This pose brings you close to the earth, and helps calm the mind and spirit while strengthening the lower back and ankles as well as opening the hips.
Our feet are our roots, and through the feet we feel the energy of the earth. To awaken the fascia of the soles of your feet, gently tuck your toes under as you rest on your knees (a block or bolster can be used to sit on if needed).
Hold for one minute before releasing. Repeat three times.
Svadhishthana Chakra (Pelvic Chakra)
- Location: Pelvic basin
- System: Reproductive
- Associations: Sexuality, appetite, creative powers, desires, sensations
- Colour: Orange
- Element: Water
- Mantra: Vam
- Affirmation: I am creative
Kapotasana is easily adapted for all levels. To begin, you may need just to work with the legs and pelvis. From downward dog or from the hands and knees, slip the right knee forward between the hands, and bring the foot out slightly near the left hip. Lower the pelvis and stretch the left leg straight out behind, lowering the knee to the floor. If your pelvis is not resting comfortably on the floor, you may need a folded blanket or a bolster to support the right hip.
Don’t forget to breathe! This may be as far as you go in the pose. If so, repeat on the other side.
Manipura Chakra (Solar Plexus Chakra)
- Location: Solar plexus and navel
- System: Muscular and digestive
- Associations: Power, determination, self-control, will
- Colour: Yellow
- Element: Fire
- Mantra: Ram
- Affirmation: I am strong
Pose: Pranayama of Bhastrika
To activate your Solar Plexus Chakra energy, practice the Pranayama of Bhastrika. This breathing exercise accentuates the exhale. You inhale through the nose and exhale sharply and forcefully through the mouth. Stand with the feet hip-width apart and create fists with your hands at the level of your ribs. On the inhale, extend the arms out in front of you, and on the exhale, draw the arms back into your ribcage. This is a really powerful exercise, bringing all the energy into your belly.